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Etext prepared by John Bickers, jbickers@templar.actrix.gen.nz.


By Xenophon

Translated by H. G. Dakyns

Xenophon the Athenian was born 431 B.C. He was a
pupil of Socrates. He marched with the Spartans,
and was exiled from Athens. Sparta gave him land
and property in Scillus, where he lived for many
years before having to move once more, to settle
in Corinth. He died in 354 B.C.

The Memorabilia is a recollection of Socrates in
word and deed, to show his character as the best
and happiest of men.


First Published 1897 by Macmillan and Co.
This was typed from Dakyns' series, "The Works of Xenophon," a
four-volume set. The complete list of Xenophon's works (though
there is doubt about some of these) is:

Work Number of books

The Anabasis 7
The Hellenica 7
The Cyropaedia 8
The Memorabilia 4
The Symposium 1
The Economist 1
On Horsemanship 1
The Sportsman 1
The Cavalry General 1
The Apology 1
On Revenues 1
The Hiero 1
The Agesilaus 1
The Polity of the Athenians and the Lacedaemonians 2

Text in brackets "{}" is my transliteration of Greek text into
English using an Oxford English Dictionary alphabet table. The
diacritical marks have been lost.



Recollections of Socrates



I have often wondered by what arguments those who indicted[1] Socrates
could have persuaded the Athenians that his life was justly forfeit to
the state. The indictment was to this effect: "Socrates is guilty of
crime in refusing to recognise the gods acknowledged by the state, and
importing strange divinities of his own; he is further guilty of
corrupting the young."

[1] {oi grapsamenoi} = Meletus (below, IV. iv. 4, viii. 4; "Apol." 11,
19), Anytus ("Apol." 29), and Lycon. See Plat. "Apol." II. v. 18;
Diog. Laert. II. v. (Socr.); M. Schanz, "Plat. Apol. mit deutschen
Kemmentar, Einleitung," S. 5 foll.

In the first place, what evidence did they produce that Socrates
refused to recognise the gods acknowledged by the state? Was it that
he did not sacrifice? or that he dispensed with divination? On the
contrary, he was often to be seen engaged in sacrifice, at home or at
the common altars of the state. Nor was his dependence on divination
less manifest. Indeed that saying of his, "A divinity[2] gives me a
sign," was on everybody's lips. So much so that, if I am not mistaken,
it lay at the root of the imputation that he imported novel
divinities; though there was no greater novelty in his case than in
that of other believers in oracular help, who commonly rely on omens
of all sorts: the flight or cry of birds, the utterances of man,
chance meetings,[3] or a victim's entrails. Even according to the
popular conception, it is not the mere fowl, it is not the chance
individual one meets, who knows what things are profitable for a man,
but it is the gods who vouchsafe by such instruments to signify the
same. This was also the tenet of Socrates. Only, whereas men
ordinarily speak of being turned aside, or urged onwards by birds, or
other creatures encountered on the path, Socrates suited his language
to his conviction. "The divinity," said he, "gives me a sign."
Further, he would constantly advise his associates to do this, or
beware of doing that, upon the authority of this same divine voice;
and, as a matter of fact, those who listened to his warnings
prospered, whilst he who turned a deaf ear to them repented
afterwards.[4] Yet, it will be readily conceded, he would hardly
desire to present himself to his everyday companions in the character
of either knave or fool. Whereas he would have appeared to be both,
supposing[5] the God-given revelations had but revealed his own
proneness to deception. It is plain he would not have ventured on
forecast at all, but for his belief that the words he spoke would in
fact be verified. Then on whom, or what, was the assurance rooted, if
not upon God? And if he had faith in the gods, how could he fail to
recognise them?

[2] Or, "A divine something." See "Encyc. Brit." "Socrates." Dr. H.
Jackason; "The Daemon of Socrates," F. W. H. Myers; K. Joel, "Der
echte und der Xenophontische Sokrates," i. p. 70 foll.; cf.
Aristot. "M. M." 1182 a 10.

[3] See Aesch. "P. V." 487, {enodious te sombolous}, "and pathway
tokens," L. Campbell; Arist. "Birds," 721, {sombolon ornin}:
"Frogs," 196, {to sometukhon exion}; "Eccl." 792; Hor. "Od." iii.
27, 1-7.

[4] See "Anab." III. i. 4; "Symp." iv. 48.

[5] Or, "if his vaunted manifestations from heaven had but manifested
the falsity of his judgment."

But his mode of dealing with his intimates has another aspect. As
regards the ordinary necessities of life,[6] his advice was, "Act as
you believe[7] these things may best be done." But in the case of
those darker problems, the issues of which are incalculable, he
directed his friends to consult the oracle, whether the business
should be undertaken or not. "No one," he would say, "who wishes to
manage a house or city with success: no one aspiring to guide the helm
of state aright, can afford to dipense with aid from above. Doubtless,
skill in carpentering, building, smithying, farming, of the art of
governing men, together with the theory of these processes, and the
sciences of arithmetic, economy, strategy, are affairs of study, and
within the grasp of human intelligence. Yet there is a side even of
these, and that not the least important, which the gods reserve to
themselves, the bearing of which is hidden from mortal vision. Thus,
let a man sow a field or plant a farm never so well, yet he cannot
foretell who will gather in the fruits: another may build him a house
of fairest proportion, yet he knows not who will inhabit it. Neither
can a general foresee whether it will profit him to conduct a
campaign, nor a politician be certain whether his leadership will turn
to evil or good. Nor can the man who weds a fair wife, looking forward
to joy, know whether through her he shall not reap sorrow. Neither can
he who has built up a powerful connection in the state know whether he
shall not by means of it be cast out of his city. To suppose that all
these matters lay within the scope of human judgment, to the exclusion
of the preternatural, was preternatural folly. Nor was it less
extravagant to go and consult the will of Heaven on any questions
which it is given to us to decide by dint of learning. As though a man
should inquire, "Am I to choose an expert driver as my coachman, or
one who has never handled the reins?" "Shall I appoint a mariner to be
skipper of my vessel, or a landsman?" And so with respect to all we
may know by numbering, weighing, and measuring. To seek advice from
Heaven on such points was a sort of profanity. "Our duty is plain," he
would observe; "where we are permitted to work through our natural
faculties, there let us by all means apply them. But in things which
are hidden, let us seek to gain knowledge from above, by divination;
for the gods," he added, "grant signs to those to whom they will be

[6] Or, "in the sphere of the determined," {ta anagkaia} = certa,
quorum eventus est necessarius; "things positive, the law-ordained
department of life," as we might say. See Grote, "H. G." i. ch.
xvi. 500 and passim.

[7] Reading {os nomizoien}, or if {os enomizen}, translate "As to
things with certain results, he advised them to do them in the way
in which he believed they would be done best"; i.e. he did not
say, "follow your conscience," but, "this course seems best to me
under the circumstances."

Again, Socrates ever lived in the public eye; at early morning he was
to be seen betaking himself to one of the promenades, or wrestling-
grounds; at noon he would appear with the gathering crowds in the
market-place; and as day declined, wherever the largest throng might
be encountered, there was he to be found, talking for the most part,
while any one who chose might stop and listen. Yet no one ever heard
him say, or saw him do anything impious or irreverent. Indeed, in
contrast to others he set his face against all discussion of such
high matters as the nature of the Universe; how the "kosmos," as the
savants[8] phrase it, came into being;[9] or by what forces the
celestial phenomena arise. To trouble one's brain about such matters
was, he argued, to play the fool. He would ask first: Did these
investigators feel their knowledge of things human so complete that
they betook themselves to these lofty speculations? Or did they
maintain that they were playing their proper parts in thus neglecting
the affairs of man to speculate on the concerns of God? He was
astonished they did not see how far these problems lay beyond mortal
ken; since even those who pride themselves most on their discussion of
these points differ from each other, as madmen do. For just as some
madmen, he said, have no apprehension of what is truly terrible,
others fear where no fear is; some are ready to say and do anything in
public without the slightest symptom of shame;[10] others think they
ought not so much as to set foot among their fellow-men; some honour
neither temple, nor altar, nor aught else sacred to the name of God;
others bow down to stocks and stones and worship the very beasts:--so
is it with those thinkers whose minds are cumbered with cares[11]
concerning the Universal Nature. One sect[12] has discovered that
Being is one and indivisible. Another[13] that it is infinite in
number. If one[14] proclaims that all things are in a continual flux,
another[15] replies that nothing can possibly be moved at any time.
The theory of the universe as a process of birth and death is met by
the counter theory, that nothing ever could be born or ever will die.

[8] Lit. "the sophists." See H. Sidgwick, "J. of Philol." iv. 1872; v.

[9] Reading {ephu}. Cf. Lucian, "Icaromenip." xlvi. 4, in imitation of
this passage apparently; or if {ekhei}, translate "is arranged."
See Grote, "H. G." viii. 573.

[10] See "Anab." V. iv. 30.

[11] See Arist. "Clouds," 101, {merimnophrontistai kaloi te kagathoi}.

[12] e.g. Xenophanes and Parmenides, see Grote, "Plato," I. i. 16

[13] e.g. Leucippus and Democritus, ib. 63 foll.

[14] e.g. Heraclitus, ib. 27 foll.

[15] e.g. Zeno, ib. ii. 96.

But the questioning of Socrates on the merits of these speculators
sometimes took another form. The student of human learning expects, he
said, to make something of his studies for the benefit of himself or
others, as he likes. Do these explorers into the divine operations
hope that when they have discovered by what forces the various
phenomena occur, they will create winds and waters at will and
fruitful seasons? Will they manipulate these and the like to suit
their needs? or has no such notion perhaps ever entered their heads,
and will they be content simply to know how such things come into
existence? But if this was his mode of describing those who meddle
with such matters as these, he himself never wearied of discussing
human topics. What is piety? what is impiety? What is the beautiful?
what the ugly? What the noble? what the base? What are meant by just
and unjust? what by sobriety and madness? what by courage and
cowardice? What is a state? what is a statesman? what is a ruler over
men? what is a ruling character? and other like problems, the
knowledge of which, as he put it, conferred a patent of nobility on
the possessor,[16] whereas those who lacked the knowledge might
deservedly be stigmatised as slaves.

[16] Or, "was distinctive of the 'beautiful and good.'" For the phrase
see below, ii. 2 et passim.

Now, in so far as the opinions of Socrates were unknown to the world
at large, it is not surprising that the court should draw false
conclusions respecting them; but that facts patent to all should have
been ignored is indeed astonishing.

At one time Socrates was a member of the Council,[17] he had taken the
senatorial oath, and sworn "as a member of that house to act in
conformity with the laws." It was thus he chanced to be President of
the Popular Assembly,[18] when that body was seized with a desire to
put the nine[19] generals, Thrasyllus, Erasinides, and the rest, to
death by a single inclusive vote. Whereupon, in spite of the bitter
resentment of the people, and the menaces of several influential
citizens, he refused to put the question, esteeming it of greater
importance faithfully to abide by the oath which he had taken, than to
gratify the people wrongfully, or to screen himself from the menaces
of the mighty. The fact being, that with regard to the care bestowed
by the gods upon men, his belief differed widely from that of the
multitude. Whereas most people seem to imagine that the gods know in
part, and are ignorant in part, Socrates believed firmly that the gods
know all things--both the things that are said and the things that are
done, and the things that are counselled in the silent chambers of the
heart. Moreover, they are present everywhere, and bestow signs upon
man concerning all the things of man.

[17] Or "Senate." Lit. "the Boule."

[18] Lit. "Epistates of the Ecclesia." See Grote, "H. G." viii. 271;
Plat. "Apol." 32 B.

[19] {ennea} would seem to be a slip of the pen for {okto}, eight. See
"Hell." I. v. 16; vi. 16; vi. 29; vii. 1 foll.

I can, therefore, but repeat my former words. It is a marvel to me how
the Athenians came to be persuaded that Socrates fell short of sober-
mindedness as touching the gods. A man who never ventured one impious
word or deed against the gods we worship, but whose whole language
concerning them, and his every act, closely coincided, word for word,
and deed for deed, with all we deem distinctive of devoutest piety.


No less surprising to my mind is the belief that Socrates corrupted
the young. This man, who, beyond what has been already stated, kept
his appetites and passions under strict control, who was pre-eminently
capable of enduring winter's cold and summer's heat and every kind of
toil, who was so schooled to curtail his needs that with the scantiest
of means he never lacked sufficiency--is it credible that such a man
could have made others irreverent or lawless, or licentious, or
effeminate in face of toil? Was he not rather the saving of many
through the passion for virtue which he roused in them, and the hope
he infused that through careful management of themselves they might
grow to be truly beautiful and good--not indeed that he ever undertook
to be a teacher of virtue, but being evidently virtuous himself he
made those who associated with him hope that by imitating they might
at last resemble him.

But let it not be inferred that he was negligent of his own body or
approved of those who neglected theirs. If excess of eating,
counteracted by excess of toil, was a dietary of which he
disapproved,[1] to gratify the natural claim of appetite in
conjunction with moderate exercise was a system he favoured, as
tending to a healthy condition of the body without trammelling the
cultivation of the spirit. On the other hand, there was nothing
dandified or pretentious about him; he indulged in no foppery of shawl
or shoes, or other effeminacy of living.

[1] See [Plat.] "Erast." 132 C.

Least of all did he tend to make his companions greedy of money. He
would not, while restraining passion generally, make capital out of
the one passion which attached others to himself; and by this
abstinence, he believed, he was best consulting his own freedom; in so
much that he stigmatised those who condescended to take wages for
their society as vendors of their own persons, because they were
compelled to discuss for the benefits of their paymasters. What
surprised him was that any one possessing virtue should deign to ask
money as its price instead of simply finding his rward in the
acquisition of an honest friend, as if the new-fledged soul of honour
could forget her debt of gratitude to her greatest benefactor.

For himself, without making any such profession, he was content to
believe that those who accepted his views would play their parts as
good and true friends to himself and one another their lives long.
Once more then: how should a man of this character corrupt the young?
unless the careful cultivation of virtue be corruption.

But, says the accuser,[2] by all that's sacred! did not Socrates cause
his associates to despise the established laws when he dwelt on the
folly of appointing state officers by ballot?[3] a principle which, he
said, no one would care to apply in selecting a pilot or a flute-
player or in any similar case, where a mistake would be far less
disastrous than in matters political. Words like these, according to
the accuser, tended to incite the young to contemn the established
constitution, rendering them violent and headstrong. But for myself I
think that those who cultivate wisdom and believe themselves able to
instruct their fellow-citizens as to their interests are least likely
to become partisans of violence. They are too well aware that to
violence attach enmities and dangers, whereas results as good may be
obtained by persuasion safely and amicably. For the victim of violence
hates with vindictiveness as one from whom something precious has been
stolen, while the willing subject of persuasion is ready to kiss the
hand which has done him a service. Hence compulsion is not the method
of him who makes wisdom his study, but of him who wields power
untempered by reflection. Once more: the man who ventures on violence
needs the support of many to fight his battles, while he whose
strength lies in persuasiveness triumphs single-handed, for he is
conscious of a cunning to compel consent unaided. And what has such a
one to do with the spilling of blood? since how ridiculous it were to
do men to death rather than turn to account the trusty service of the

[2] {o kategoros} = Polycrates possibly. See M. Schantz, op. cit.,
"Einleitun," S. 6: "Die Anklagerede des Polykrates"; Introduction,
p. xxxii. foll.

[3] i.e. staking the election of a magistrate on the colour of a bean.
See Aristot. "Ath. Pol." viii. 2, and Dr. Sandys ad loc.

But, the accuser answers, the two men[4] who wrought the greatest
evils to the state at any time--to wit, Critias and Alcibiades--were
both companions of Socrates--Critias the oligarch, and Alcibiades the
democrat. Where would you find a more arrant thief, savage, and
murderer[5] than the one? where such a portent of insolence,
incontinence, and high-handedness as the other? For my part, in so far
as these two wrought evil to the state, I have no desire to appear as
the apologist of either. I confine myself to explaining what this
intimacy of theirs with Socrates really was.

[4] See "Hell." I. and II. passim.

[5] Reading {kleptistatos te kai biaiotatos kai phonikotatos}, or if
{pleonektistatos te kai biaiotatis}, translate "such a manner of
greed and violence as the one, of insolence, etc., as the other?"
See Grote, "H. G." viii. 337.

Never were two more ambitious citizens seen at Athens. Ambition was in
their blood. If they were to have their will, all power was to be in
their hands; their fame was to eclipse all other. Of Socrates they
knew--first that he lived an absolutely independent life on the
scantiest means; next that he was self-disciplined to the last degree
in respect of pleasures; lastly that he was so formidable in debate
that there was no antagonist he could not twist round his little
finger. Such being their views, and such the character of the pair,
which is the more probable: that they sought the society of Socrates
because they felt the fascination of his life, and were attracted by
the bearing of the man? or because they thought, if only we are
leagued with him we shall become adepts in statecraft and unrivalled
in the arts of speech and action? For my part I believe that if the
choice from Heaven had been given them to live such a life as they saw
Socrates living to its close, or to die, they would both have chosen

Their acts are a conclusive witness to their characters. They no
sooner felt themselves to be the masters of those they came in contact
with than they sprang aside from Socrates and plunged into that whirl
of politics but for which they might never have sought his society.

It may be objected: before giving his companions lessons in politics
Socrates had better have taught them sobriety.[6] Without disputing
the principle, I would point out that a teacher cannot fail to
discover to his pupils his method of carrying out his own precepts,
and this along with argumentative encouragement. Now I know that
Socrates disclosed himself to his companions as a beautiful and noble
being, who would reason and debate with them concerning virtue and
other human interests in the noblest manner. And of these two I know
that as long as they were companions of Socrates even they were
temperate, not assuredly from fear of being fined or beaten by
Socrates, but because they were persuaded for the nonce of the
excellence of such conduct.

[6] {sophrosune} = "sound-mindedness," "temperence." See below, IV.
iii. 1.

Perhaps some self-styled philosophers[7] may here answer: "Nay, the
man truly just can never become unjust, the temperate man can never
become intemperate, the man who has learnt any subject of knowledge
can never be as though he had learnt it not." That, however, is not my
own conclusion. It is with the workings of the soul as with those of
the body; want of exercise of the organ leads to inability of
function, here bodily, there spiritual, so that we can neither do the
things that we should nor abstain from the things we should not. And
that is why fathers keep their sons, however temperate they may be,
out of the reach of wicked men, considering that if the society of the
good is a training in virtue so also is the society of the bad its

[7] In reference to some such tenet as that of Antisthenes ap. Diog.
Laert. VI. ix. 30, {areskei d' autois kai ten areten didakten
einai, katha phesin 'Antisthenes en to 'Rraklei kai anapobleton
uparkhein}. Cf. Plat. "Protag." 340 D, 344 D.

To this the poet[8] is a witness, who says:

"From the noble thou shalt be instructed in nobleness; but, and if
thou minglest with the base thou wilt destroy what wisdom thou
hast now";

And he[9] who says:

"But the good man has his hour of baseness as well as his hour of

to whose testimony I would add my own. For I see that it is impossible
to remember a long poem without practice and repetition; so is
forgetfulness of the words of instruction engendered in the heart that
has ceased to value them. With the words of warning fades the
recollection of the very condition of mind in which the soul yearned
after holiness; and once forgetting this, what wonder that the man
should let slip also the memory of virtue itself! Again I see that a
man who falls into habits of drunkenness or plunges headlong into
licentious love, loses his old power of practising the right and
abstaining from the wrong. Many a man who has found frugality easy
whilst passion was cold, no sooner falls in love than he loses the
faculty at once, and in his prodigal expenditure of riches he will no
longer withhold his hand from gains which in former days were too base
to invite his touch. Where then is the difficulty of supposing that a
man may be temperate to-day, and to-morrow the reverse; or that he who
once has had it in his power to act virtuously may not quite lose that
power?[10] To myself, at all events, it seems that all beautiful and
noble things are the result of constant practice and training; and
pre-eminently the virtue of temperance, seeing that in one and the
same bodily frame pleasures are planted and spring up side by side
with the soul and keep whispering in her ear, "Have done with self-
restraint, make haste to gratify us and the body."[11]

[8] Theognis, 35, 36. See "Symp." ii. 4; Plat. "Men." 95 D.

[9] The author is unknown. See Plat. "Protag." l.c.

[10] Cf. "Cyrop." V. i. 9 foll.; VI. i. 41.

[11] See my remarks, "Hellenica Essays," p. 371 foll.

But to return to Critias and Alcibiades, I repeat that as long as they
lived with Socrates they were able by his support to dominate their
ignoble appetites;[12] but being separated from him, Critias had to
fly to Thessaly,[13] where he consorted with fellows better versed in
lawlessness than justice. And Alcibiades fared no better. His personal
beauty on the one hand incited bevies of fine ladies[14] to hunt him
down as fair spoil, while on the other hand his influence in the state
and among the allies exposed him to the corruption of many an adept in
the arts of flattery; honoured by the democracy and stepping easily to
the front rank he behaved like an athlete who in the games of the
Palaestra is so assured of victory that he neglects his training; thus
he presently forgot the duty which he owed himself.

[12] Cf. [Plat.] "Theag." 130 A.

[13] See "Hell." II. iii. 36.

[14] Cf. Plut. "Ages.," "Alcib."

Such were the misadventures of these two. Is the sequel extraordinary?
Inflated with the pride of ancestry,[15] exalted by their wealth,
puffed up by power, sapped to the soul's core by a host of human
tempters, separate moreover for many a long day from Socrates--what
wonder that they reached the full stature of arrogancy! And for the
offences of these two Socrates is to be held responsible! The accuser
will have it so. But for the fact that in early days, when they were
both young and of an age when dereliction from good feeling and self-
restraint might have been expected, this same Socrates kept them
modest and well-behaved, not one word of praise is uttered by the
accuser for all this. That is not the measure of justice elsewhere
meted. Would a master of the harp or flute, would a teacher of any
sort who has turned out proficient pupils, be held to account because
one of them goes away to another teacher and turns out to be a
failure? Or what father, if he have a son who in the society of a
certain friend remains an honest lad, but falling into the company of
some other becomes a good-for-nothing, will that father straightway
accuse the earlier instructor? Will not he rather, in proportion as
the boy deteriorates in the company of the latter, bestow more
heartfelt praise upon the former? What father, himself sharing the
society of his own children, is held to blame for their
transgressions, if only his own goodness be established? Here would
have been a fair test to apply to Socrates: Was he guilty of any base
conduct himself? If so let him be set down as a knave, but if, on the
contrary, he never faltered in sobriety from beginning to end, how in
the name of justice is he to be held to account for a baseness which
was not in him?

[15] Or, "became overweening in arrogance." Cf. "Henry VIII. II. iv.
110": "But your heart is crammed with arrogancy, spleen, and

I go further: if, short of being guilty of any wrong himself, he saw
the evil doings of others with approval, reason were he should be held
blameworthy. Listen then: Socrates was well aware that Critias was
attached to Euthydemus,[16] aware too that he was endeavouring to deal
by him after the manner of those wantons whose love is carnal of the
body. From this endeavour he tried to deter him, pointing out how
illiberal a thing it was, how ill befitting a man of honour to appear
as a beggar before him whom he loved, in whose eyes he would fain be
precious, ever petitioning for something base to give and base to get.

[16] See below, IV. ii. 1 (if the same person).

But when this reasoning fell on deaf ears and Critias refused to be
turned aside, Socrates, as the story goes, took occasion of the
presence of a whole company and of Euthydemus to remark that Critias
appeared to be suffering from a swinish affection, or else why this
desire to rub himself against Euthydemus like a herd of piglings
scraping against stones.

The hatred of Critias to Socrates doubtless dates from this incident.
He treasured it up against him, and afterwards, when he was one of the
Thirty and associated with Charicles as their official lawgiver,[17]
he framed the law against teaching the art of words[18] merely from a
desire to vilify Socrates. He was at a loss to know how else to lay
hold of him except by levelling against him the vulgar charge[19]
against philosophers, by which he hoped to prejudice him with the
public. It was a charge quite unfounded as regards Socrates, if I may
judge from anything I ever heard fall from his lips myself or have
learnt about him from others. But the animus of Critias was clear. At
the time when the Thirty were putting citizens, highly respectable
citizens, to death wholesale, and when they were egging on one man
after another to the commission of crime, Socrates let fall an
observation: "It would be sufficiently extraordinary if the keeper of
a herd of cattle[20] who was continually thinning and impoverishing
his cattle did not admit himself to be a sorry sort of herdsman, but
that a ruler of the state who was continually thinning and
impoverishing the citizens should neither be ashamed nor admit himself
to be a sorry sort of ruler was more extraordinary still." The remark
being reported to the government, Socrates was summoned by Critias and
Charicles, who proceeded to point out the law and forbade him to
converse with the young. "Was it open to him," Socrates inquired of
the speaker, "in case he failed to understand their commands in any
point, to ask for an explanation?"

[17] Lit. "Nomothetes." See "Hell." II. iii. 2; Dem. 706. For
Charicles see Lys. "c. Eratosth." S. 56; Aristot. "Pol." v. 6. 6.

[18] See Diog. Laert. II. v. ("Socr.")

[19] i.e. {to ton etto logon kreitto poiein}, "of making the worse
appear the better cause." Cf. Arist. "Clouds."

[20] See Dio Chrys. "Or." 43.

"Certainly," the two assented.

Then Socrates: I am prepared to obey the laws, but to avoid
transgression of the law through ignorance I need instruction: is it
on the supposition that the art of words tends to correctness of
statement or to incorrectness that you bid us abstain from it? for if
the former, it is clear we must abstain from speeking correctly, but
if the latter, our endeavour should be to amend our speech.

To which Charicles, in a fit of temper, retorted: In consideration of
your ignorance,[21] Socrates, we will frame the prohibition in
language better suited to your intelligence: we forbid you to hold any
conversation whatsoever with the young.

[21] See Aristot. "de Soph. El." 183 b7.

Then Socrates: To avoid all ambiguity then, or the possibility of my
doing anything else than what you are pleased to command, may I ask
you to define up to what age a human being is to be considered young?

For just so long a time (Charicles answered) as he is debarred from
sitting as a member of the Council,[22] as not having attained to the
maturity of wisdom; accordingly you will not hold converse with any
one under the age of thirty.

[22] The Boule or Senate. See W. L. Newman, "Pol. Aristot." i. 326.

Soc. In making a purchase even, I am not to ask, what is the price of
this? if the vendor is under the age of thirty?

Cha. Tut, things of that sort: but you know, Socrates, that you have a
way of asking questions, when all the while you know how the matter
stands. Let us have no questions of that sort.

Soc. Nor answers either, I suppose, if the inquiry concerns what I
know, as, for instance, where does Charicles live? or where is Critias
to be found?

Oh yes, of course, things of that kind (replied Charicles), while
Critias added: But at the same time you had better have done with your
shoemakers, carpenters, and coppersmiths.[23] These must be pretty
well trodden out at heel by this time, considering the circulation you
have given them.

[23] Cf. Plat. "Gorg." 491 A; "Symp." 221 E; Dio Chrys. "Or." 55, 560
D, 564 A.

Soc. And am I to hold away from their attendant topics also--the just,
the holy, and the like?

Most assuredly (answered Charicles), and from cowherds in particular;
or else see that you do not lessen the number of the herd yourself.

Thus the secret was out. The remark of Socrates about the cattle had
come to their ears, and they could not forgive the author of it.

Perhaps enough has been said to explain the kind of intimacy which had
subsisted between Critias and Socrates, and their relation to one
another. But I will venture to maintain that where the teacher is not
pleasing to the pupil there is no education. Now it cannot be said of
Critias and Alcibiades that they associated with Socrates because they
found him pleasing to them. And this is true of the whole period. From
the first their eyes were fixed on the headship of the state as their
final goal. During the time of their imtimacy with Socrates there were
no disputants whom they were more eager to encounter than professed

Thus the story is told of Alcibiades--how before the age of twenty he
engaged his own guardian, Pericles, at that time prime minister of the
state, in a discussion concerning laws.

Alc. Please, Pericles, can you teach me what a law is?

Per. To be sure I can.

Alc. I should be so much obliged if you would do so. One so often
hears the epithet "law-abiding" applied in a complimentary sense; yet,
it strikes me, one hardly deserves the compliment, if one does not
know what a law is.

Per. Fortunately there is a ready answer to your difficulty. You wish
to know what a law is? Well, those are laws which the majority, being
met together in conclave, approve and enact as to what it is right to
do, and what it is right to abstain from doing.

Alc. Enact on the hypothesis that it is right to do what is good? or
to do what is bad?

Per. What is good, to be sure, young sir, not what is bad.

Alc. Supposing it is not the majority, but, as in the case of an
oligarchy, the minority, who meet and enact the rules of conduct, what
are these?

Per. Whatever the ruling power of the state after deliberation enacts
as our duty to do, goes by the name of laws.

Alc. Then if a tyrant, holding the chief power in the state, enacts
rules of conduct for the citizens, are these enactments law?

Per. Yes, anything which a tyrant as head of the state enacts, also
goes by the name of law.

Alc. But, Pericles, violence and lawlessness--how do we define them?
Is it not when a stronger man forces a weaker to do what seems right
to him--not by persuasion but by compulsion?

Per. I should say so.

Alc. It would seem to follow that if a tyrant, without persuading the
citizens, drives them by enactment to do certain things--that is

Per. You are right; and I retract the statement that measures passed
by a tyrant without persuasion of the citizens are law.

Alc. And what of measures passed by a minority, not by persuasion of
the majority, but in the exercise of its power only? Are we, or are we
not, to apply the term violence to these?

Per. I think that anything which any one forces another to do without
persuasion, whether by enactment or not, is violence rather than law.

Alc. It would seem that everything which the majority, in the exercise
of its power over the possessors of wealth, and without persuading
them, chooses to enact, is of the nature of violence rather than of

To be sure (answered Pericles), adding: At your age we were clever
hands at such quibbles ourselves. It was just such subtleties which we
used to practise our wits upon; as you do now, if I mistake not.

To which Alcibiades replied: Ah, Pericles, I do wish we could have met
in those days when you were at your cleverest in such matters.

Well, then, as soon as the desired superiority over the politicians of
the day seemed to be attained, Critias and Alcibiades turned their
backs on Socrates. They found his society unattractive, not to speak
of the annoyance of being cross-questioned on their own shortcomings.
Forthwith they devoted themselves to those affairs of state but for
which they would never have come near him at all.

No; if one would seek to see true companions of Socrates, one must
look to Crito,[24] and Chaerephon, and Chaerecrates, to Hermogenes, to
Simmias and Cebes, to Phaedondes and others, who clung to him not to
excel in the rhetoric of the Assembly or the law-courts, but with the
nobler ambition of attaining to such beauty and goodliness of soul as
would enable them to discharge the various duties of life to house and
family, to relatives and friends, to fellow-citizens, and to the state
at large. Of these true followers not one in youth or old age was ever
guilty, or thought guilty, of committing any evil deed.

[24] For these true followers, familiar to us in the pages of Plato,
("Crito," "Apol.," "Phaedo," etc) see Cobet, "Pros. Xen."

"But for all that," the accuser insists, "Socrates taught sons to pour
contumely upon their fathers[25] by persuading his young friends that
he could make them wiser than their sires, or by pointing out that the
law allowed a son to sue his father for aberration of mind, and to
imprison him, which legal ordinance he put in evidence to prove that
it might be well for the wiser to imprison the more ignorant."

[25] See "Apol." 20; Arist. "Clouds," 1407, where Pheidippides "drags
his father Strepsiades through the mire."

Now what Socrates held was, that if a man may with justice incarcerate
another for no better cause than a form of folly or ignorance, this
same person could not justly complain if he in his turn were kept in
bonds by his superiors in knowledge; and to come to the bottom of such
questions, to discover the difference between madness and ignorance
was a problem which he was perpetually working at. His opinion came to
this: If a madman may, as a matter of expediency to himself and his
friends, be kept in prison, surely, as a matter of justice, the man
who knows not what he ought to know should be content to sit at the
feet of those who know, and be taught.

But it was the rest of their kith and kin, not fathers only (according
to the accuser), whom Socrates dishonoured in the eyes of his circle
of followers, when he said that "the sick man or the litigant does not
derive assistance from his relatives,[26] but from his doctor in the
one case, and his legal adviser in the other." "Listen further to his
language about friends," says the accuser: "'What is the good of their
being kindly disposed, unless they can be of some practical use to
you? Mere goodness of disposition is nothing; those only are worthy of
honour who combine with the knowledge of what is right the faculty of
expounding it;'[27] and so by bringing the young to look upon himself
as a superlatively wise person gifted with an extraordinary capacity
for making others wise also, he so worked on the dispositions of those
who consorted with him that in their esteem the rest of the world
counted for nothing by comparison with Socrates."

[26] See Grote, "H. G." v. 535.

[27] Cf. Thuc. ii. 60. Pericles says, "Yet I with whom you are so
angry venture to say of myself, that I am as capable as any one of
devising and explaining a sound policy."--Jowett.

Now I admit the language about fathers and the rest of a man's
relations. I can go further, and add some other sayings of his, that
"when the soul (which is alone the indwelling centre of intelligence)
is gone out of a man, be he our nearest and dearest friend, we carry
the body forth and bury it out of sight." "Even in life," he used to
say, "each of us is ready to part with any portion of his best
possession--to wit, his own body--if it be useless and unprofitable.
He will remove it himself, or suffer another to do so in his stead.
Thus men cut off their own nails, hair, or corns; they allow surgeons
to cut and cauterise them, not without pains and aches, and are so
grateful to the doctor for his services that they further give him a
fee. Or again, a man ejects the spittle from his mouth as far as
possible.[28] Why? Because it is of no use while it stays within the
system, but is detrimental rather."

[28] See Aristot. "Eth. Eud." vii. 1.

Now by these instances his object was not to inculcate the duty of
burying one's father alive or of cutting oneself to bits, but to show
that lack of intelligence means lack of worth;[29] and so he called
upon his hearers to be as sensible and useful as they could be, so
that, be it father or brother or any one else whose esteem he would
deserve, a man should not hug himself in careless self-interest,
trusting to mere relationship, but strive to be useful to those whose
esteem he coveted.

[29] i.e. "witless and worthless are synonymous."

But (pursues the accuser) by carefully culling the most immoral
passages of the famous poets, and using them as evidences, he taught
his associates to be evildoers and tyrranical: the line of Hesiod[30]
for instance--

No work is a disgrace; slackness of work is the disgrace--

"interpreted," says the accuser, "by Socrates as if the poet enjoined
us to abstain from no work wicked or ignoble; do everything for the
sake of gain."

[30] "Works and Days," 309 {'Ergon d' ouden oneidos}. Cf. Plat.
"Charm." 163 C.

Now while Socrates would have entirely admitted the propositions that
"it is a blessing and a benefit to a man to be a worker," and that "a
lazy do-nothing is a pestilent evil," that "work is good and idleness
a curse," the question arises, whom did he mean by workers? In his
vocabulary only those were good workmen[31] who were engaged on good
work; dicers and gamblers and others engaged on any other base and
ruinous business he stigmatised as the "idle drones"; and from this
point of view the quotation from Hesiod is unimpeachable--

No work is a disgrace; only idlesse is disgrace.

But there was a passage from Homer[32] for ever on his lips, as the
accuser tells us--the passage which says concerning Odysseus,

What prince, or man of name,
He found flight-giv'n, he would restrain with words of gentlest blame:
"Good sir, it fits you not to fly, or fare as one afraid,
You should not only stay yourself, but see the people stayed."

Thus he the best sort us'd; the worst, whose spirits brake out in noise,[33]
He cudgell'd with his sceptre, chid, and said, "Stay, wretch, be still,
And hear thy betters; thou art base, and both in power and skill
Poor and unworthy, without name in counsel or in war."
We must not all be kings.

[31] See below, III. ix. 9.

[32] "Il." ii. 188 foll., 199 foll. (so Chapman).

[33] Lit. "But whatever man of the people he saw and found him
shouting."--W. Leaf.

The accuser informs us that Socrates interpreted these lines as though
the poet approved the giving of blows to commoners and poor folk. Now
no such remark was ever made by Socrates; which indeed would have been
tantamount to maintaining that he ought to be beaten himself. What he
did say was, that those who were useful neither in word nor deed, who
were incapable of rendering assistance in time of need to the army or
the state or the people itself, be they never so wealthy, ought to be
restrained, and especially if to incapacity they added effrontery.

As to Socrates, he was the very opposite of all this--he was plainly a
lover of the people, and indeed of all mankind. Though he had many
ardent admirers among citizens and strangers alike, he never demanded
any fee for his society from any one,[34] but bestowed abundantly upon
all alike of the riches of his sould--good things, indeed, of which
fragments accepted gratis at his hands were taken and sold at high
prices to the rest of the community by some,[35] who were not, as he
was, lovers of the people, since with those who had not money to give
in return they refused to discourse. But of Socrates be it said that
in the eyes of the whole world he reflected more honour on the state
and a richer lustre than ever Lichas,[36] whose fame is proverbial,
shed on Lacedaemon. Lichas feasted and entertained the foreign
residents in Lacedaemon at the Gymnopaediae most handsomely. Socrates
gave a lifetime to the outpouring of his substance in the shape of the
greatest benefits bestowed on all who cared to receive them. In other
words, he made those who lived in his society better men, and sent
them on their way rejoicing.

[34] See "Symp." iv. 43; Plat. "Hipp. maj." 300 D; "Apol." 19 E.

[35] See Diog. Laert. II. viii. 1.

[36] See "Hell." III. ii. 21; Thuc. v. 50; Plut. "Cim." 284 C. For the
Gymnopaediae, see Paus. III. xi. 9; Athen. xiv. p. 631.

To no other conclusion, therefore, can I come but that, being so good
a man, Socrates was worthier to have received honour from the state
than death. And this I take to be the strictly legal view of the case,
for what does the law require?[37] "If a man be proved to be a thief,
a filcher of clothes, a cut-purse, a housebreaker, a man-stealer, a
robber of temples, the penalty is death." Even so; and of all men
Socrates stood most aloof from such crimes.

[37] See "Symp." iv. 36; Plat. "Rep." 575 B; "Gorg." 508 E.

To the state he was never the cause of any evil--neither disaster in
war, nor faction, nor treason, nor any other mischief whatsoever. And
if his public life was free from all offence, so was his private. He
never hurt a single soul either by deprivation of good or infliction
of evil, nor did he ever lie under the imputation of any of those
misdoings. WHere then is his liability to the indictment to be found?
Who, so far from disbelieving in the gods, as set forth in the
indictment, was conspicuous beyond all men for service to heaven; so
far from corrupting the young--a charge alleged with insistence by the
prosecutor--was notorious for the zeal with which he strove not only
to stay his associates from evil desires, but to foster in them a
passionate desire for that loveliest and queenliest of virtues without
which states and families crumble to decay.[38] Such being his
conduct, was he not worthy of high honour from the state of Athens?

[38] Or, "the noblest and proudest virtue by means of which states and
families are prosperously directed."


It may serve to illustrate the assertion that he benefited his
associates partly by the display of his own virtue and partly by
verbal discourse and argument, if I set down my various
recollections[1] on these heads. And first with regard to religion and
the concerns of heaven. In conduct and language his behaviour
conformed to the rule laid down by the Pythia[2] in reply to the
question, "How shall we act?" as touching a sacrifice or the worship
of ancestors, or any similar point. Her answer is: "Act according to
the law and custom of your state, and you will act piously." After
this pattern Socrates behaved himself, and so he exhorted others to
behave, holding them to be but busybodies and vain fellows who acted
on any different principle.

[1] Hence the title of the work, {'Apomenmoneumata}, "Recollections,
Memoirs, Memorabilia." See Diog. Laert. "Xen." II. vi. 48.

[2] The Pythia at Delphi.

His formula or prayer was simple: "Give me that which is best for me,"
for, said he, the gods know best what good things are--to pray for
gold or silver or despotic power were no better than to make some
particular throw at dice or stake in battle or any such thing the
subject of prayer, of which the future consequences are manifestly

[3] See (Plat.) "Alcib. II." 142 foll.; Valerius Max. vii. 2;
"Spectator," No. 207.

If with scant means he offered but small sacrifices he believed that
he was in no wise inferior to those who make frequent and large
sacrifices from an ampler store. It were ill surely for the very gods
themselves, could they take delight in large sacrifices rather than in
small, else oftentimes must the offerings of bad men be found
acceptable rather than of good; nor from the point of view of men
themselves would life be worth living if the offerings of a villain
rather than of a righteous man found favour in the sight of Heaven.
His belief was that the joy of the gods is greater in proportion to
the holiness of the giver, and he was ever an admirer of that line of
Hesiod which says,

According to thine ability do sacrifice to the immortal gods.[4]

[4] Hesiod, "Works and Days," 336. See "Anab." III. ii. 9.

"Yes," he would say, "in our dealings with friends and strangers
alike, and in reference to the demands of life in general, there is no
better motto for a man than that: 'let a man do according to his

Or to take another point. If it appeared to him that a sign from
heaven had been given him, nothing would have induced him to go
against heavenly warning: he would as soon have been persuaded to
accept the guidance of a blind man ignorant of the path to lead him on
a journey in place of one who knew the road and could see; and so he
denounced the folly of others who do things contrary to the warnings
of God in order to avoid some disrepute among men. For himself he
despised all human aids by comparison with counsel from above.

The habit and style of living to which he subjected his soul and body
was one which under ordinary circumstances[5] would enable any one
adopting it to look existence cheerily in the face and to pass his
days serenely: it would certainly entail no difficulties as regards
expense. So frugal was it that a man must work little indeed who could
not earn the quantum which contented Socrates. Of food he took just
enough to make eating a pleasure--the appetite he brought to it was
sauce sufficient; while as to drinks, seeing that he only drank when
thirsty, any draught refreshed.[6] If he accepted an invitation to
dinner, he had no difficulty in avoiding the common snare of over-
indulgence, and his advice to people who could not equally control
their appetite was to avoid taking what would allure them to eat if
not hungry or to drink if not thirsty.[7] Such things are ruinous to
the constitution, he said, bad for stomachs, brains, and soul alike;
or as he used to put it, with a touch of sarcasm,[8] "It must have
been by feasting men on so many dainty dishes that Circe produced her
pigs; only Odysseus through his continency and the 'promptings[9] of
Hermes' abstained from touching them immoderately, and by the same
token did not turn into a swine." So much for this topic, which he
touched thus lightly and yet seriously.

[5] {ei me ti daimonion eie}, "save under some divinely-ordained
calamity." Cf. "Cyrop." I. vi. 18; "Symp." viii. 43.

[6] See "Ages." ix; Cic. "Tusc." v. 34, 97; "de Fin." ii. 28, 90.

[7] Cf. Plut. "Mor." 128 D; Clement, "Paedag." 2. 173, 33; "Strom." 2,
492, 24; Aelian, "N. A." 8, 9.

[8] "Half in gibe and half in jest," in ref. to "Od." x. 233 foll.:
"So she let them in . . ."

[9] {upothemosune}, "inspiration." Cf. "Il." xv. 412; "Od." xvi. 233.

But as to the concerns of Aphrodite, his advice was to hold strongly
aloof from the fascination of fair forms: once lay finger on these and
it is not easy to keep a sound head and a sober mind. To take a
particular case. It was a mere kiss which, as he had heard,
Critobulus[10] had some time given to a fair youth, the son of
Alcibiades.[11] Accordingly Critobulus being present, Socrates
propounded the question.

[10] For Critobulus (the son of Crito) see "Econ." i. 1 foll.; "Symp."
i. 3 foll.

[11] See Isocr. "Or." xvi. Cobet conj. {ton tou 'Axiokhou uion}, i.e.

Soc. Tell me, Xenophon, have you not always believed Critobulus to be
a man of sound sense, not wild and self-willed? Should you not have
said that he was remarkable for his prudence rather than thoughtless
or foolhardy?

Xen. Certainly that is what I should have said of him.

Soc. Then you are now to regard him as quite the reverse--a hot-
blooded, reckless libertine: this is the sort of man to throw
somersaults into knives,[12] or to leap into the jaws of fire.

[12] Cf. "Symp." ii. 10, iv. 16. See Schneider ad loc.

Xen. And what have you seen him doing, that you give him so bad a

Soc. Doing? Why, has not the fellow dared to steal a kiss from the son
of Alcibiades, most fair of youths and in the golden prime?

Xen. Nay, then, if that is the foolhardy adventure, it is a danger
which I could well encounter myself.

Soc. Pour soul! and what do you expect your fate to be after that
kiss? Let me tell you. On the instant you will lose your freedom, the
indenture of your bondage will be signed; it will be yours on
compulsion to spend large sums on hurtful pleasures; you will have
scarcely a moment's leisure left for any noble study; you will be
driven to concern yourself most zealously with things which no man,
not even a madman, would choose to make an object of concern.

Xen. O Heracles! how fell a power to reside in a kiss!

Soc. Does it surprise you? Do you not know that the tarantula, which
is no bigger than a threepenny bit,[13] has only to touch the mouth
and it will afflict its victim with pains and drive him out of his

[13] Lit. "a half-obol piece." For the {phalaggion} see Aristot. "H.
A." ix. 39, 1.

Xen. Yes, but then the creature injects something with its bite.

Soc. Ah, fool! and do you imagine that these lovely creatures infuse
nothing with their kiss, simply because you do not see the poison? Do
you not know that this wild beast which men call beauty in its bloom
is all the more terrible than the tarantula in that the insect must
first touch its victim, but this at a mere glance of thebeholder,
without even contact, will inject something into him--yards away--
which will make him man. And may be that is why the Loves are called
"archers," because these beauties wound so far off.[14] But my advice
to you, Xenophon, is, whenever you catch sight of one of these fair
forms, to run helter-skelter for bare life without a glance behind;
and to you, Critobulus, I would say, "Go abroad for a year: so long
time will it take to heal you of this wound."

[14] L. Dindorf, etc. regard the sentence as a gloss. Cf. "Symp." iv.
26 [{isos de kai . . . entimoteron estin}].

Such (he said), in the affairs of Aphrodite, as in meats and drinks,
should be the circumspection of all whose footing is insecure. At
least they should confine themselves to such diet as the soul would
dispense with, save for some necessity of the body; and which even so
ought to set up no disturbance.[15] But for himself, it was clear, he
was prepared at all points and invulnerable. He found less difficulty
in abstaining from beauty's fairest and fullest bloom than many others
from weeds and garbage. To sum up:[16] with regard to eating and
drinking and these other temptations of the sense, the equipment of
his soul made him independent; he could boast honestly that in his
moderate fashion[17] his pleasures were no less than theirs who take
such trouble to procure them, and his pains far fewer.

[15] Cf. "Symp." iv. 38.

[16] L. Dindorf [brackets] this passage as spurious.

[17] On the principle "enough is as good as a feast," {arkountos}.


A belief is current, in accordance with views maintained concerning
Socrates in speech and writing, and in either case conjecturally,
that, however powerful he may have been in stimulating men to virtue
as a theorist, he was incapable of acting as their guide himself.[1]
It would be well for those who adopt this view to weigh carefully not
only what Socrates effected "by way of castigation" in cross-
questioning whose who conceived themselves to be possessed of all
knowledge, but also his everyday conversation with those who spent
their time in close intercourse with himself. Having done this, let
them decide whether he was incapable of making his companions better.

[1] Al. "If any one believes that Socrates, as represented in certain
dialogues (e.g. of Plato, Antisthenes, etc.) of an imaginary
character, was an adept ({protrepsasthai}) in the art of
stimulating people to virtue negatively but scarcely the man to
guide ({proagein}) his hearers on the true path himself." Cf.
(Plat.) "Clitophon," 410 B; Cic. "de Or." I. xlvii. 204; Plut.
"Mor." 798 B. See Grote, "Plato," iii. 21; K. Joel, op. cit. p. 51
foll.; Cf. below, IV. iii. 2.

I will first state what I once heard fall from his lips in a
discussion with Aristodemus,[2] "the little," as he was called, on the
topic of divinity.[3] Socrates had observed that Aristodemus neither
sacrificed nor gave heed to divination, but on the contrary was
disposed to ridicule those who did.

[2] See Plat. "Symp." 173 B: "He was a little fellow who never wore
any shoes, Aristodemus, of the deme of Cydathenaeum."--Jowett.

[3] Or, "the divine element."

So tell me, Aristodemus (he begain), are there any human beings who
have won your admiration for their wisdom?

Ar. There are.

Soc. Would you mention to us their names?

Ar. In the writings of epic poetry I have the greatest admiration for
Homer. . . . And as a dithyrambic poet for Melanippides.[4] I admire
also Sophocles as a tragedian, Polycleitus as a sculptor, and Zeuxis
as a painter.

[4] Melanippides, 430 B.C. See Cobet, "Pros. Xen." s.n.

Soc. Which would you consider the more worthy of admiration, a
fashioner of senseless images devoid of motion or one who could
fashion living creatures endowed with understanding and activity?

Ar. Decidedly the latter, provided his living creatures owed their
birth to design and were not the offspring of some chance.

Soc. But now if you had two sorts of things, the one of which presents
no clue as to what it is for, and the other is obviously for some
useful purpose--which would you judge to be the result of chance,
which of design?

Ar. Clearly that which is produced for some useful end is the work of

Soc. Does it not strike you then that he who made man from the
beginning[5] did for some useful end furnish him with his several
senses--giving him eyes to behold the visible word, and ears to catch
the intonations of sound? Or again, what good would there be in odours
if nostrils had not been bestowed upon us? what perception of sweet
things and pungent, and of all the pleasures of the palate, had not a
tongue been fashioned in us as an interpreter of the same? And besides
all this, do you not think this looks like a matter of foresight, this
closing of the delicate orbs of sight with eyelids as with folding
doors, which, when there is need to use them for any purpose, can be
thrown wide open and firmly closed again in sleep? and, that even the
winds of heaven may not visit them too roughly, this planting of the
eyelashes as a protecting screen?[6] this coping of the region above
the eyes with cornice-work of eyebrow so that no drop of sweat fall
from the head and injure them? again this readiness of the ear to
catch all sounds and yet not to be surcharged? this capacity of the
front teeth of all animals to cut and of the "grinders" to receive the
food and reduce it to pulp? the position of the mouth again, close to
the eyes and nostrils as a portal of ingress for all the creature's
supplies? and lastly, seeing that matter passing out[7] of the body is
unpleasant, this hindward direction of the passages, and their removal
to a distance from the avenues of sense? I ask you, when you see all
these things constructed with such show of foresight can you doubt
whether they are products of chance or intelligence?

[5] Cf. Aristot. "de Part. Animal." 1. For the "teleological" views
see IV. iii. 2 foll.

[6] "Like a sieve" or "colander."

[7] "That which goeth out of a man."

Ar. To be sure not! Viewed in this light they would seem to be the
handiwork of some wise artificer,[8] full of love for all things

[8] "Demiurge."

[9] Passage referred to by Epictetus ap. Stob. "Flor." 121, 29.

Soc. What shall we say of this passion implanted in man to beget
offspring, this passion in the mother to rear her babe, and in the
creature itself, once born, this deep desire of life and fear of

Ar. No doubt these do look like the contrivances of some one
deliberately planning the existence of living creatures.

Soc. Well, and doubtless you feel to have a spark of wisdom yourself?

Ar. Put your questions, and I will answer.

Soc. And yet you imagine that elsewhere no spark of wisdom is to be
found? And that, too, when you know that you have in your body a tiny
fragment only of the mighty earth, a little drop of the great waters,
and of the other elements, vast in their extent, you got, I presume, a
particle of each towards the compacting of your bodily frame? Mind
alone, it would seem, which is nowhere to be found,[10] you had the
lucky chance to snatch up and make off with, you cannot tell how. And
these things around and about us, enormous in size, infinite in
number, owe their orderly arrangement, as you suppose, to some vacuity
of wit?

[10] Cf. Plat. "Phileb." 30 B: "Soc. May our body be said to have a
soul? Pro. Clearly. Soc. And whence comes that soul, my dear
Protarchus, unless the body of the universe, which contains
elements similar to our bodies but finer, has also a soul? Can
there be any other source?"--Jowett. Cic. "de N. D." ii. 6; iii.

Ar. It may be, for my eyes fail to see the master agents of these, as
one sees the fabricators of things produced on earth.

Soc. No more do you see your own soul, which is the master agent of
your body; so that, as far as that goes, you may maintain, if you
like, that you do nothing with intelligence,[11] but everything by

[11] Or, "by your wit," {gnome}.

At this point Aristodemus: I assure you, Socrates, that I do not
disdain the Divine power. On the contrary, my belief is that the
Divinity is too grand to need any service which I could render.

Soc. But the grander that power is, which deigns to tend and wait upon
you, the more you are called upon to honour it.

Ar. Be well assured, if I could believe the gods take thought for all
men, I would not neglect them.

Soc. How can you suppose that they do not so take thought? Who, in the
first place, gave to man alone of living creatures his erect posture,
enabling him to see farther in front of him and to contemplate more
freely the height above, and to be less subject to distress than other
creatures [endowed like himself with eyes and ears and mouth].[12]
Consider next how they gave to the beast of the field[13] feet as a
means of progression only, but to man they gave in addition hands--
those hands which have achieved so much to raise us in the scale of
happiness above all animals. Did they not make the tongue also? which
belongs indeed alike to man and beast, but in man they fashioned it so
as to play on different parts of the mouth at different times, whereby
we can produce articulate speech, and have a code of signals to
express our every want to one another. Or consider the pleasures of
the sexual appetite; limited in the rest of the animal kingdom to
certain seasons, but in the case of man a series prolonged unbroken to
old age. Nor did it content the Godhead merely to watch over the
interests of man's body. What is of far higher import, he implanted in
man the noblest and most excellent type of soul. For what other
creature, to begin with, has a soul to appreciate the existence of the
gods who have arranged this grand and beauteous universe? What other
tribe of animals save man can render service to the gods? How apt is
the spirit of man to take precautions against hunger and thirst, cold
and heat, to alleviate disease and foster strength! how suited to
labour with a view to learning! how capable of garnering in the
storehouse of his memory all that he has heard or seen or understood!
Is it not most evident to you that by the side of other animals men
live and move a race of gods--by nature excellent, in beauty of body
and of soul supreme? For, mark you, had a creature of man's wit been
encased in the body of an ox,[14] he would have been powerless to
carry out his wishes, just as the possession of hands divorced from
human wit is profitless. And then you come, you who have obtained
these two most precious attributes, and give it as your opinion, that
the gods take no thought or care for you. Why, what will you have them
to do, that you may believe and be persuaded that you too are in their

[12] See Kuhner for an attempt to cure the text.

[13] {erpetois}, a "poetical" word. Cf. "Od." iv. 418; Herod. i. 140.

[14] See Aristot. "de Part. Animal." iv. 10.

Ar. When they treat me as you tell us they treat you, and send me
counsellors to warn me what I am to do and what abstain from
doing,[15] I will believe.

[15] See IV. iii. 12.

Soc. Send you counsellors! Come now, what when the people of Athens
make inquiry by oracle, and the gods' answer comes? Are you not an
Athenian? Think you not that to you also the answer is given? What
when they send portents to forewarn the states of Hellas? or to all
mankind? Are you not a man? a Hellene? Are not these intended for you
also? Can it be that you alone are excepted as a signal instance of
Divine neglect? Again, do you suppose that the gods could have
implanted in the heart of man the belief in their capacity to work him
weal or woe had they not the power? Would not men have discovered the
imposture in all this lapse of time? Do you not perceive that the
wisest and most perdurable of human institutions--be they cities or
tribes of men--are ever the most God-fearing; and in the individual
man the riper his age and judgment, the deeper his religousness? Ay,
my good sir (he broke forth), lay to heart and understand that even as
your own mind within you can turn and dispose of your body as it
lists, so ought we to think that the wisdom which abides within the
universal frame does so dispose of all things as it finds agreeable to
itself; for hardly may it be that your eye is able to range over many
a league, but that the eye of God is powerless to embrace all things
at a glance; or that to your soul it is given to dwell in thought on
matters here or far away in Egypt or in Sicily, but that the wisdom
and thought of God is not sufficient to include all things at one
instant under His care. If only you would copy your own behaviour[16]
where human beings are concerned. It is by acts of service and of
kindness that you discover which of your fellows are willing to
requite you in kind. It is by taking another into your counsel that
you arrive at the secret of his wisdom. If, on like principle, you
will but make trial of the gods by acts of service, whether they will
choose to give you counsel in matters obscure to mortal vision, you
shall discover the nature and the greatness of Godhead to be such that
they are able at once to see all things and to hear all things and to
be present everywhere, nor does the least thing escape their watchful

[16] Or, "reason as you are wont to do."

To my mind the effect of words like these was to cause those about him
to hold aloof from unholiness, baseness, and injustice, not only
whilst they were seen of men, but even in the solitary place, since
they must believe that no part of their conduct could escape the eye
of Heaven.


I suppose it may be taken as admitted that self-control is a noble
acquirement for a man.[1] If so, let us turn and consider whether by
language like the following he was likely to lead his listeners
onwards[2] to the attainment of this virtue. "Sirs," he would say, "if
a war came upon us and we wished to choose a man who would best help
us to save ourselves and to subdue our enemy, I suppose we should
scarcely select one whom we knew to be a slave to his belly, to wine,
or lust, and prone to succumb to toil or sleep. Could we expect such
an one to save us or to master our foes? Or if one of us were nearing
the end of his days, and he wished to discover some one to whom he
might entrust his sons for education, his maiden daughters for
protection, and his property in general for preservation, would he
deem a libertine worthy of such offices? Why, no one would dream of
entrusting his flocks and herds, his storehouses and barns, or the
superintendence of his works to the tender mercies of an intemperate
slave. If a butler or an errand boy with such a character were offered
to us we would not take him as a free gift. And if he would not accept
an intemperate slave, what pains should the master himself take to
avoid that imputation.[3] For with the incontinent man it is not as
with the self-seeker and the covetous. These may at any rate be held
to enrich themselves in depriving others. But the intemperate man
cannot claim in like fashion to be a blessing to himself if a curse to
his neighbours; nay, the mischief which he may cause to others is
nothing by comparison with that which redounds against himself, since
it is the height of mischief to ruin--I do not say one's own house and
property--but one's own body and one's own soul. Or to take an example
from social intercourse, no one cares for a guest who evidently takes
more pleasure in the wine and the viands than in the friends beside
him--who stints his comrades of the affection due to them to dote upon
a mistress. Does it not come to this, that every honest man is bound
to look upon self-restraint as the very corner-stone of virtue:[4]
which he should seek to lay down as the basis and foundation of his
soul? Without self-restraint who can lay any good lesson to heart or
practise it when learnt in any degree worth speaking of? Or, to put it
conversely, what slave of pleasure will not suffer degeneracy of soul
and body? By Hera,[5] well may every free man pray to be saved from
the service of such a slave; and well too may he who is in bondage to
such pleasures supplicate Heaven to send him good masters, seeing that
is the one hope of salvation left him."

[1] Lit. "a beautiful and brave possesion."

[2] {proubibaze}.

[3] Or, "how should the master himself beware lest he fall into that

[4] {krepida}. See Pind. "Pyth." iv. 138; ib. vii. 3; ib. fr. 93.

[5] See below, III. x. 9, xi. 5; IV. ii. 9, iv. 8; "Econ." x. 1;
"Cyrop." I. iv. 12; Plat. "Phaedr." 230 B. Cf. Shakesp. "by'r

Well-tempered words: yet his self-restraint shone forth even more in
his acts than in his language. Not only was he master over the
pleasures which flow from the body, but of those also which are fed by
riches, his belief being that he who receives money from this or that
chance donor sets up over himself a master, and binds himself to an
abominable slavery.


In this context some discussions with Antiphon the sophist[1] deserve
record. Antiphon approaches Socrates in hope of drawing away his
associates, and in their presence thus accosts him.

[1] {o teratoskopos}, "jealous of Socrates," according to Aristotle
ap. Diog. Laert. II. v. 25. See Cobet, "Pros. Xen."

Antiphon. Why, Socrates, I always thought it was expected of students
of philosophy to grow in happiness daily; but you seem to have reaped
other fruits from your philosophy. At any rate, you exist, I do not
say live, in a style such as no slave serving under a master would put
up with. Your meat and your drink are of the cheapest sort, and as to
clothes, you cling to one wretched cloak which serves you for summer
and winter alike; and so you go the whole year round, without shoes to
your feet or a shirt to your back. Then again, you are not for taking
or making money, the mere seeking of which is a pleasure, even as the
possession of it adds to the sweetness and independence of existence.
I do not know whether you follow the common rule of teachers, who try
to fashion their pupils in imitation of themselves,[2] and propose to
mould the characters of your companions; but if you do you ought to
dub yourself professor of the art of wretchedness.[3]

[2] Or, "try to turn out their pupils as copies of themselves."

[3] See Arist. "Clouds," {on o kakodaimon Sokrates kai Khairephon}.

Thus challenged, Socrates replied: One thing to me is certain,
Antiphon; you have conceived so vivid an idea of my life of misery
that for yourself you would choose death sooner than live as I do.
Suppose now we turn and consider what it is you find so hard in my
life. Is it that he who takes payment must as a matter of contract
finish the work for which he is paid, whereas I, who do not take it,
lie under no constraint to discourse except with whom I choose? Do you
despise my dietary on the ground that the food which I eat is less
wholesome and less stengthening than yours, or that the articles of my
consumption are so scarce and so much costlier to procure than yours?
Or have the fruits of your marketing a flavour denied to mine? Do you
not know the sharper the appetite the less the need of sauces, the
keener the thirst the less the desire for out-of-the-way drinks? And
as to raiment, clothes, you know, are changed on account of cold or
else of heat. People only wear boots and shoes in order not to gall
their feet and be prevented walking. Now I ask you, have you ever
noticed that I keep more within doors than others on account of the
cold? Have you ever seen me battling with any one for shade on account
of the heat? Do you not know that even a weakling by nature may, by
dint of exercise and practice, come to outdo a giant who neglects his
body? He will beat him in the particular point of training, and bear
the strain more easily. But you apparently will not have it that I,
who am for ever training myself to endure this, that, and the other
thing which may befall the body, can brave all hardships more easily
than yourself for instance, who perhaps are not so practised. And to
escape slavery to the belly or to sleep or lechery, can you suggest
more effective means than the possession of some powerful attraction,
some counter-charm which shall gladden not only in the using, but by
the hope enkindled of its lasting usefulness? And yet this you do
know; joy is not to him who feels that he is doing well in nothing--it
belongs to one who is persuaded that things are progressing with him,
be it tillage or the working of a vessel,[4] or any of the thousand
and one things on which a man may chance to be employed. To him it is
given to rejoice as he reflects, "I am doing well." But is the
pleasured derived from all these put together half as joyous as the
consciousness of becoming better oneself, of acquiring better and
better friends? That, for my part, is the belief I continue to

[4] "The business of a shipowner or skipper."

Again, if it be a question of helping one's friends or country, which
of the two will have the larger leisure to devote to these objects--he
who leads the life which I lead to-day, or he who lives in the style
which you deem so fortunate? Which of the two will adopt a soldier's
life more easily--the man who cannot get on without expensive living,
or he to whom whatever comes to hand suffices? Which will be the
readier to capitulate and cry "mercy" in a siege--the man of elaborate
wants, or he who can get along happily with the readiest things to
hand? You, Antiphon, would seem to suggest that happiness consists of
luxury and extravagance; I hold a different creed. To have no wants at
all is, to my mind, an attribute of Godhead;[5] to have as few wants
as possible the nearest approach to Godhead; and as that which is
divine is mightiest, so that is next mightiest which comes closest to
the divine.

[5] Cf. Aristot. "Eth. N." x. viii. 1.

Returning to the charge at another time, this same Antiphon engaged
Socrates in conversation thus.

Ant. Socrates, for my part, I believe you to be a good and upright
man; but for your wisdom I cannot say much. I fancy you would hardly
dispute the verdict yourself, since, as I remark, you do not ask a
money payment for your society; and yet if it were your cloak now, or
your house, or any other of your possessions, you would set some value
upon it, and never dream, I will not say of parting with it gratis,
but of exchanging it for less than its worth. A plain proof, to my
mind, that if you thought your society worth anything, you would ask
for it not less than its equivalent in gold.[6] Hence the conclusion
to which I have come, as already stated: good and upright you may be,
since you do not cheat people from pure selfishness; but wise you
cannot be, since your knowledge is not worth a cent.

[6] Or rather "money," lit. "silver."

To this onslaught Socrates: Antiphon, it is a tenet which we cling to
that beauty and wisdom have this in common, that there is a fair way
and a foul way in which to dispose of them. The vendor of beauty
purchases an evil name, but supposing the same person have discerned a
soul of beauty in his lover and makes that man his friend, we regard
his choice as sensible.[7] So is it with wisdom; he who sells it for
money to the first bidder we name a sophist,[8] as though one should
say a man who prostitutes his wisdom; but if the same man, discerning
the noble nature of another, shall teach that other every good thing,
and make him his friend, of such a one we say he does that which it is
the duty of every good citizen of gentle soul to do. In accordance
with this theory, I too, Antiphon, having my tastes, even as another
finds pleasure in his horse and his hounds,[9] and another in his
fighting cocks, so I too take my pleasure in good friends; and if I
have any good thing myself I teach it them, or I commend them to
others by whom I think they will be helped forwards on the path of
virtue. The treasures also of the wise of old, written and bequeathed
in their books,[10] I unfold and peruse in common with my friends. If
our eye light upon any good thing we cull it eagerly, and regard it as
great gain if we may but grow in friendship with one another.

[7] Add "and a sign of modesty," {sophrona nomizomen}.

[8] {sophistas}. See Grote, "H. G." viii. 482 foll.; "Hunting," xi.

[9] Cf. Plat. "Lys." 211 E.

[10] Cf. "Symp." iv. 27.

As I listened to this talk I could not but reflect that he, the
master, was a person to be envied, and that we, his hearers, were
being led by him to beauty and nobility of soul.

Again on some occasion the same Antiphon asked Socrates how he
expected to make politicians of others when, even if he had the
knowledge, he did not engage in politics himself.

Socrates replied: I will put to you a question, Antiphon: Which were
the more statesmanlike proceeding, to practise politics myself single-
handed, or to devote myself to making as many others as possible fit
to engage in that pursuit?


Let us here turn and consider whether by deterring his associates from
quackery and false seeming he did not directly stimulate them to the
pursuit of virtue.[1] He used often to say there was no better road to
renown than the one by which a man became good at that wherein he
desired to be reputed good.[2] The truth of the concept he enforced as
follows: "Let us reflect on what a man would be driven to do who
wanted to be thought a good flute player, without really being so. He
would be forced to imitate the good flute player in the externals of
his art, would he not? and first or all, seeing that these artists
always have a splendid equipment,[3] and travel about with a long
train of attendants, he must have the same; in the next place, they
can command the plaudits of a multitude, he therefore must pack a
conclave of clackers. But one thing is clear: nothing must induce him
to give a performance, or he will be exposed at once, and find himself
a laughing-stock not only as a sorry sort of flute player, but as a
wretched imposter. And now he has a host of expenses to meet; and not
one advantage to be reaped; and worse than all his evil reputation.
What is left him but to lead a life stale and unprofitable, the scorn
and mockery of men? Let us try another case. Suppose a man wished to
be thought a good general or a good pilot, though he were really
nothing of the sort, let us picture to our minds how it will fare with
him. Of two misfortunes one: either with a strong desire to be thought
proficient in these matters, he will fail to get others to agree with
him, which will be bad enough; or he will succeed, with worse result;
since it stands to reason that anyone appointed to work a vessel or
lead an army without the requisite knowledge will speedily ruin a
number of people whom he least desires to hurt, and will make but a
sorry exit from the stage himself." Thus first by one instance and
then another would he demonstrate the unprofitableness of trying to
appear rich, or courageous, or strong, without really being the thing
pretended. "You are sure sooner or later to have commands laid upon
you beyond your power to execute, and failing just where you are
credited with capacity, the world will give you no commiseration." "I
call that man a cheat, and a great cheat too," he would say, "who gets
money or goods out of some one by persuasion, and defrauds him; but of
all imposters he surely is the biggest who can delude people into
thinking that he is fit to lead the state, when all the while he is a
worthless creature."[4]

[1] {apotrepon proutrepen}. See K. Joel, op. cit. p. 450 foll.

[2] Cf. "Cyrop." I. vi. 22.

[3] Or, "furniture of the finest," like Arion's in Herod. i. 24.
Schneid. cf. Demosth. 565. 6.

[4] Here follows the sentence [{emoi men oun edokei kai tou
alazoneuesthai apotrepein tous sunontas toiade dialegomenos}],
which, for the sake of convenience, I have attached to the first
sentence of Bk. II. ch. i. [{edokei de moi . . . ponou.}] I
believe that the commentators are right in bracketing both one and
the other as editorial interpolations.



Now, if the effect of such discourses was, as I imagine, to deter his
hearers from the paths of quackery and false-seeming,[1] so I am sure
that language like the following was calculated to stimulate his
followers to practise self-control and endurance: self-control in the
matters of eating, drinking, sleeping, and the cravings of lust;
endurance of cold and heat and toil and pain. He had noticed the undue
licence which one of his acquaintances allowed himself in all such
matters.[2] Accordingly he thus addressed him:

[1] This sentence in the Greek concludes Bk. I. There is something
wrong or very awkward in the text here.

[2] Cf. Grote, "Plato," III. xxxviii. p. 530.

Tell me, Aristippus (Socrates said), supposing you had two children
entrusted to you to educate, one of them must be brought up with an
aptitude for government, and the other without the faintest propensity
to rule--how would you educate them? What do you say? Shall we begin
our inquiry from the beginning, as it were, with the bare elements of
food and nutriment?

Ar. Yes, food to begin with, by all means, being a first principle,[3]
without which there is no man living but would perish.

[3] Aristippus plays upon the word {arkhe}.

Soc. Well, then, we may expect, may we not, that a desire to grasp
food at certain seasons will exhibit itself in both the children?

Ar. It is to be expected.

Soc. Which, then, of the two must be trained, of his own free will,[4]
to prosecute a pressing business rather than gratify the belly?

[4] {proairesis}.

Ar. No doubt the one who is being trained to govern, if we would not
have affairs of state neglected during[5] his government.

[5] Lit. "along of."

Soc. And the same pupil must be furnished with a power of holding out
against thirst also when the craving to quench it comes upon him?

Ar. Certainly he must.

Soc. And on which of the two shall we confer such self-control in
regard to sleep as shall enable him to rest late and rise early, or
keep vigil, if the need arise?

Ar. To the same one of the two must be given that endurance also.

Soc. Well, and a continence in regard to matters sexual so great that
nothing of the sort shall prevent him from doing his duty? Which of
them claims that?

Ar. The same one of the pair again.

Soc. Well, and on which of the two shall be bestowed, as a further
gift, the voluntary resolution to face toils rather than turn and flee
from them?

Ar. This, too, belongs of right to him who is being trained for

Soc. Well, and to which of them will it better accord to be taught all
knowledge necessary towards the mastery of antagonists?

Ar. To our future ruler certainly, for without these parts of learning
all his other capacities will be merely waste.

Soc. [6]Will not a man so educated be less liable to be entrapped by
rival powers, and so escape a common fate of living creatures, some of
which (as we all know) are hooked through their own greediness, and
often even in spite of a native shyness; but through appetite for food
they are drawn towards the bait, and are caught; while others are
similarly ensnared by drink?

[6] [SS. 4, 5, L. Dind. ed Lips.]

Ar. Undoubtedly.

Soc. And others again are victims of amorous heat, as quails, for
instance, or partridges, which, at the cry of the hen-bird, with lust
and expectation of such joys grow wild, and lose their power of
computing dangers: on they rush, and fall into the snare of the

Aristippus assented.

Soc. And would it not seem to be a base thing for a man to be affected
like the silliest bird or beast? as when the adulterer invades the
innermost sanctum[7] of the house, though he is well aware of the
risks which his crime involves,[8] the formidable penalties of the
law, the danger of being caught in the toils, and then suffering the
direst contumely. Considering all the hideous penalties which hang
over the adulterer's head, considering also the many means at hand to
release him from the thraldom of his passion, that a man should so
drive headlong on to the quicksands of perdition[9]--what are we to
say of such frenzy? The wretch who can so behave must surely be
tormented by an evil spirit?[10]

[7] {eis as eirktas}. The penetralia.

[8] Or, "he knows the risks he runs of suffering those penalties with
which the law threatens his crime should he fall into the snare,
and being caught, be mutilated."

[9] Or, "leap headlong into the jaws of danger."

[10] {kakodaimonontos}.

Ar. So it strikes me.

Soc. And does it not strike you as a sign of strange indifference
that, whereas the greater number of the indispensable affairs of men,
as for instance, those of war and agriculture, and more than half the
rest, need to be conducted under the broad canopy of heaven,[11] yet
the majority of men are quite untrained to wrestle with cold and heat?

[11] Or, "in the open air."

Aristippus again assented.

Soc. And do you not agree that he who is destined to rule must train
himself to bear these things lightly?

Ar. Most certainly.

Soc. And whilst we rank those who are self-disciplined in all these
matters among persons fit to rule, we are bound to place those
incapable of such conduct in the category of persons without any
pretension whatsoever to be rulers?

Ar. I assent.

Soc. Well, then, since you know the rank peculiar to either section of
mankind, did it ever strike you to consider to which of the two you
are best entitled to belong?

Yes I have (replied Aristippus). I do not dream for a moment of
ranking myself in the class of those who wish to rule. In fact,
considering how serious a business it is to cater for one's own
private needs, I look upon it as the mark of a fool not to be content
with that, but to further saddle oneself with the duty of providing
the rest of the community with whatever they may be pleased to want.
That, at the cost of much personal enjoyment, a man should put himself
at the head of a state, and then, if he fail to carry through every
jot and tittle of that state's desire, be held to criminal account,
does seem to me the very extravagance of folly. Why, bless me! states
claim to treat their rulers precisely as I treat my domestic slaves. I
expect my attendants to furnish me with an abundance of necessaries,
but not to lay a finger on one of them themselves. So these states
regard it as the duty of a ruler to provide them with all the good
things imaginable, but to keep his own hands off them all the
while.[12] So then, for my part, if anybody desires to have a heap of
pother himself,[13] and be a nuisance to the rest of the world, I will
educate him in the manner suggested, and he shall take his place among
those who are fit to rule; but for myself, I beg to be enrolled
amongst those who wish to spend their days as easily and pleasantly as

[12] Or, "but he must have no finger in the pie himself."

[13] See Kuhner ad loc.

Soc. Shall we then at this point turn and inquire which of the two are
likely to lead the pleasanter life, the rulers or the ruled?

Ar. By all means let us do so.

Soc. To begin then with the nations and races known to ourselves.[14]
In Asia the Persians are the rulers, while the Syrians, Phrygians,
Lydians are ruled; and in Europe we find the Scythians ruling, and the
Maeotians being ruled. In Africa[15] the Carthaginians are rulers, the
Libyans ruled. Which of these two sets respectively leads the happier
life, in your opinion? Or, to come nearer home--you are yourself a
Hellene--which among Hellenes enjoy the happier existence, think you,
the dominant or the subject states?

[14] Or, "the outer world, the non-Hellenic races and nationalities of
which we have any knowledge."

[15] Lit. "Libya."

Nay,[16] I would have you to understand (exclaimed Aristippus) that I
am just as far from placing myself in the ranks of slavery; there is,
I take it, a middle path between the two which it is my ambition to
tread, avoiding rule and slavery alike; it lies through freedom--the
high road which leads to happiness.

[16] Or, "Pardon me interrupting you, Socrates; but I have not the
slightest intention of placing myself." See W. L. Newman, op. cit.
i. 306.

Soc. True, if only your path could avoid human beings, as it avoids
rule and slavery, there would be something in what you say. But being
placed as you are amidst human beings, if you purpose neither to rule
nor to be ruled, and do not mean to dance attendance, if you can help
it, on those who rule, you must surely see that the stronger have an
art to seat the weaker on the stool of repentance[17] both in public
and in private, and to treat them as slaves. I daresay you have not
failed to note this common case: a set of people has sown and planted,
whereupon in comes another set and cuts their corn and fells their
fruit-trees, and in every way lays siege to them because, though
weaker, they refuse to pay them proper court, till at length they are
persuaded to accept slavery rather than war against their betters. And
in private life also, you will bear me out, the brave and powerful are
known to reduce the helpless and cowardly to bondage, and to make no
small profit out of their victims.

[17] See "Symp." iii. 11; "Cyrop." II. ii. 14; Plat. "Ion," 535 E; L.
Dindorf ad loc.

Ar. Yes, but I must tell you I have a simple remedy against all such
misadventures. I do not confine myself to any single civil community.
I roam the wide world a foreigner.

Soc. Well, now, that is a masterly stroke, upon my word![18] Of
course, ever since the decease of Sinis, and Sciron, and
Procrustes,[19] foreign travellers have had an easy time of it. But
still, if I bethink me, even in these modern days the members of free
communities do pass laws in their respective countries for self-
protection against wrong-doing. Over and above their personal
connections, they provide themselves with a host of friends; they gird
their cities about with walls and battlements; they collect armaments
to ward off evil-doers; and to make security doubly sure, they furnish
themselves with allies from foreign states. In spite of all which
defensive machinery these same free citizens do occasionally fall
victims to injustice. But you, who are without any of these aids; you,
who pass half your days on the high roads where iniquity is rife;[20]
you, who, into whatever city you enter, are less than the least of its
free members, and moreover are just the sort of person whom any one
bent on mischief would single out for attack--yet you, with your
foreigner's passport, are to be exempt from injury? So you flatter
yourself. And why? Will the state authorities cause proclamation to be
made on your behalf: "The person of this man Aristippus is secure; let
his going out and his coming in be free from danger"? Is that the
ground of your confidence? or do you rather rest secure in the
consciousness that you would prove such a slave as no master would
care to keep? For who would care to have in his house a fellow with so
slight a disposition to work and so strong a propensity to
extravagance? Suppose we stop and consider that very point: how do
masters deal with that sort of domestic? If I am not mistaken, they
chastise his wantonness by starvation; they balk his thieving
tendencies by bars and bolts where there is anything to steal; they
hinder him from running away by bonds and imprisonment; they drive the
sluggishness out of him with the lash. Is it not so? Or how do you
proceed when you discover the like tendency in one of your domestics?

[18] Or, "Well foiled!" "A masterly fall! my prince of wrestlers."

[19] For these mythical highway robbers, see Diod. iv. 59; and for
Sciron in particular, Plut. "Theseus," 10.

[20] Or, "where so many suffer wrong."

Ar. I correct them with all the plagues, till I force them to serve me
properly. But, Socrates, to return to your pupil educated in the royal
art,[21] which, if I mistake not, you hold to be happiness: how, may I
ask, will he be better off than others who lie in evil case, in spite
of themselves, simply because they suffer perforce, but in his case
the hunger and the thirst, the cold shivers and the lying awake at
nights, with all the changes he will ring on pain, are of his own
choosing? For my part I cannot see what difference it makes, provided
it is one and the same bare back which receives the stripes, whether
the whipping be self-appointed or unasked for; nor indeed does it
concern my body in general, provided it be my body, whether I am
beleaguered by a whole armament of such evils[22] of my own will or
against my will--except only for the folly which attaches to self-
appointed suffering.

[21] Cf. below, IV. ii. 11; Plat. "Statesm." 259 B; "Euthyd." 291 C;
K. Joel, op. cit. p. 387 foll. "Aristippus anticipates Adeimantus"
("Rep." 419), W. L. Newman, op. cit. i. 395.

[22] Cf. "suffers the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune."

Soc. What, Aristippus, does it not seem to you that, as regards such
matters, there is all the difference between voluntary and involuntary
suffering, in that he who starves of his own accord can eat when he
chooses, and he who thirsts of his own free will can drink, and so for
the rest; but he who suffers in these ways perforce cannot desist from
the suffering when the humour takes him? Again, he who suffers
hardship voluntarily, gaily confronts his troubles, being buoyed on
hope[23]--just as a hunter in pursuit of wild beasts, through hope of
capturing his quarry, finds toil a pleasure--and these are but prizes
of little worth in return for their labours; but what shall we say of
their reward who toil to obtain to themselves good friends, or to
subdue their enemies, or that through strength of body and soul they
may administer their households well, befriend their friends, and
benefit the land which gave them birth? Must we not suppose that these
too will take their sorrows lightly, looking to these high ends? Must
we not suppose that they too will gaily confront existence, who have
to support them not only their conscious virtue, but the praise and
admiration of the world?[24] And once more, habits of indolence, along
with the fleeting pleasures of the moment, are incapable, as gymnastic
trainers say, of setting up[25] a good habit of body, or of implanting
in the soul any knowledge worthy of account; whereas by painstaking
endeavour in the pursuit of high and noble deeds, as good men tell us,
through endurance we shall in the end attain the goal. So Hesiod
somewhere says:[26]

Wickedness may a man take wholesale with ease, smooth is the way
and her dwelling-place is very nigh; but in front of virtue the
immortal gods have placed toil and sweat, long is the path and
steep that leads to her, and rugged at the first, but when the
summit of the pass is reached, then for all its roughness the path
grows easy.

[23] Cf. above, I. vi. 8.

[24] Or, "in admiration of themselves, the praise and envy of the
world at large."

[25] See Hippocrates, "V. Med." 18.

[26] Hesiod, "Works and Days," 285. See Plat. "Prot." 340 C; "Rep."
ii. 364 D; "Laws," iv. 718 E.

And Ephicharmus[27] bears his testimony when he says:

The gods sell us all good things in return for our labours.

[27] Epicharmus of Cos, the chief comic poet among the Dorians, fl.
500 B.C. Cf. Plat. "Theaet." 152 E, "the prince of comedy";
"Gorg." 505 D.

And again in another passage he exclaims:

Set not thine heart on soft things, thou knave, lest thou light
upon the hard.

And that wise man Prodicus[28] delivers himself in a like strain
concerning virtue in that composition of his about Heracles, which
crowds have listened to.[29] This, as far as I can recollect it, is
the substance at least of what he says:

[28] Prodicus of Ceos. See Plat. "Men." 24; "Cratyl." 1; Philostr.
"Vit. Soph." i. 12.

[29] Or, "which he is fond of reciting as a specimen of style." The
title of the {epideixis} was {'Orai} according to Suidas,

"When Heracles was emerging from boyhood into the bloom of youth,
having reached that season in which the young man, now standing upon
the verge of independence, shows plainly whether he will enter upon
the path of virtue or of vice, he went forth into a quiet place, and
sat debating with himself which of those two paths he should pursue;
and as he there sat musing, there appeared to him two women of great
stature which drew nigh to him. The one was fair to look upon, frank
and free by gift of nature,[30] her limbs adorned with purity and her
eyes with bashfulness; sobriety set the rhythm of her gait, and she
was clad in white apparel. The other was of a different type; the
fleshy softness of her limbs betrayed her nurture, while the

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